Stigma surrounding mental health is improving, but we have a long way to go

What it comes down to is a lack of education and empathy in the community

By Kevin J. Sabo For the Advance

Stigma, as defined by Google, is defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.”

Despite the increasing acknowledgment and awareness of mental health issues in our society, stigma surrounding mental illness remains high, and isolating.

Thanks to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, I had the opportunity to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness during their Headstrong Mental Health Summit for youth leaders on Oct. 24th.

Around 100 junior-high kids from around the region met in Stettler for a full-day of information and activities designed to further increase awareness of this important topic.

Because of my history with mental illness, I was asked to share my story, in a nerve-wrenching experience. It was the first time I have shared my story in that kind of venue; however, with the topic being discussed it was a story I was happy to share.

During Headstrong, the assembled students were able to listen to an inspiring keynote address given by someone who lives with mental health struggles every day.

After the keynote I had the opportunity to share my story. The students were broken into smaller groups of around 15 students each, where a discussion was had about mental illness and its public perception today.

After that brief discussion, I, and a few other speakers, were invited to share our stories with the smaller groups.

After we concluded a comparison was made to see what perceptions were before and after we spoke. In the group I was with, the difference between the before and after perception was significant. The attitudes perpetuated by what they have seen on television or in the newspaper were shattered.

I’ve battled with mental illness my entire adult life, and I have faced my own share of stigma along the way.

I’ve lost jobs once employers knew of my mental health struggles.

What it comes down to is a lack of education and empathy in the community. This is highlighted by the treatment people receive when they break a leg versus the treatment they receive when they admit to struggling with an issue such as depression.

Meanwhile, the youth who participated in this summit were left with a different perspective on mental health by the end of the day, and the hope is they can carry that knowledge with them back to their schools and further break down the stigma still faced by many in society.

Programs such as Headstrong are important tools in increasing awareness around the issues those that suffer with mental illness face; however, they aren’t the only ones.

Several programs aimed at adults are presented in the region throughout the year as well and provide invaluable information on this dark, and often ignored, topic.

For those suffering with mental illness, the knowledge around the illnesses is increasing, and the stigma is being eroded away slowly but surely.

However, we are a far cry from where we could be.

If you are in crisis, you can call the crisis line at 1-877-303-2642, call 911, or go to your local emergency department.

Just Posted

The final Castor Farmers Market of 2019 took place on Dec. 5th

The Castor Farmers Market will be taking a couple months off before returning in March

Alberta RCMP prepares for National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day and shares safety tips

National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day is a nationwide RCMP initiative taking place Dec.7th

Lacombe’s AFSC ready to help Alberta producers facing difficult times

2019 season not easy for Alberta producers due toweather and other challenges

Castor seniors learn how to protect themselves from scams and abuse

Around 20 seniors in Castor attended a recent workshop at the Castor Golden Circle

Permits expected in ‘the next month or two’ for the Paintearth Wind Project

The project, if approved, is projected to start construction in the second quarter of 2021

Fashion Fridays: Ethical and sustainable gifts for the season

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Man accused in toddler son’s death inept parent, not murderer: defence

Toddler’s body was found outside Good Shepherd Anglican Church in April 2017

Job numbers disappointing, but oil and gas growth expected in 2020: Kenney

Unemployment rate in Alberta rose to 7.2 per cent from 6.7 per cent last month

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Feds approve Alberta’s carbon tax on big industrial emitters

Tax will be applied on 10 per cent of emissions produced by the province’s biggest polluters

Appeal denied: Alberta’s top court upholds conviction of triple-murderer

Douglas Garland was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of a couple and their grandson

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

Most Read